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Congress Critters Lament NSA Snoop Agenda
by Kurt Nimmo    Another Day in the Empire
Entered into the database on Thursday, May 11th, 2006 @ 16:06:11 MST


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Naturally, it is the job of the corporate media to paper over the real reasons for the NSA snoop database, described as “the largest database ever assembled in the world,” according to a source quoted by USA Today. Leslie Cauley of the daily newspaper tells us “the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity,” and attributes this excuse to shadowy sources, as usual, and yet not a single nine eleven terrorist, with the exception of the nut job Zacarias Moussaoui, has faced a jury or suffered a conviction.

Instead of alleged terrorists, the NSA is running its super-sophisticated algorithms on the telephone, email, and web traffic data of average Americans with the help of multinational telecoms such as AT&T, Verizon, and BellSouth. “The three telecommunications companies are working under contract with the NSA, which launched the program in 2001 shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the sources said. The program is aimed at identifying and tracking suspected terrorists, they said.”

Actually, this is not only misleading, it is completely disingenuous. Back in May of 1999, well before “everything changed” on September 11, 2001, the NSA was using Echelon to poke through the private communications of Americans.

According to the New York Times, at the time “the House Committee on Intelligence requested that the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency provide a detailed report to Congress explaining what legal standards they use to monitor the conversations, transmissions and activities of American citizens.” In fact, there are no “legal standards” and all such activity is strictly a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. “Although Echelon was originally set up as an international spy network, lawmakers are concerned that it could be used to eavesdrop on American citizens,” Niall McKay wrote for the Times. So threatening was Echelon, the European Parliament in May 2001 urged its citizens to use cryptography in their communications to protect their privacy, thus revealing the network was not intended to ferret out spies and terrorists but rather underwear drawer snoop average citizens, who are, of course, the real threat to government. It can be accurately stated that “signals intelligence” (snooping private communications) has posed a threat since the creation of the UKUSA Community, a snoop and subvert alliance of English-speaking nations led by the United States and United Kingdom and formalized in 1947 or 1948 with the signing of the secret UKUSA SIGINT.

If not for the director of Australia’s Defense Signals Directorate spilling the beans in 1999, we would know little about the UKUSA Agreement. No “government or intelligence agency from the member states had openly admitted to the existence of the UKUSA Agreement or Echelon. However, on a television program broadcast … in Australia, the director of Australia’s Defense Signals Directorate acknowledged the existence of the agreement” and thus massive and Constitutional-busting snooping. According to a report issued by the European Parliament (Development of Surveillance Technology and Risk of Abuse of Economic Information, an appraisal of snoop technologies)

Echelon is just one of the many code names for the monitoring system, which consists of satellite interception stations in participating countries. The stations collectively monitor millions of voice and data messages each day. These messages are then scanned and checked against certain key criteria held in a computer system called the “Dictionary.” In the case of voice communications, the criteria could include a suspected criminal’s telephone number; with respect to data communications, the messages might be scanned for certain keywords, like “bomb” or “drugs.” The report also alleges that Echelon is capable of monitoring terrestrial Internet traffic through interception nodes placed on deep-sea communications cables.

In the current context, it is more likely words such as “impeach Bush” or “Bill of Rights” are searched and pegged for inclusion in this dictionary than “bomb,” “drugs,” or even “Osama bin Laden.” Again, for a government responsible for war crimes and massive financial corruption, the enemy is naturally the people, not mythical and illusory terrorists, the latter usually conceived to scare the short pants off a semi-somnolent public.

In a futile effort—as worthless as the 1999 “investigation” into Echelon—to get to the bottom of all this snooping, “Arlen [Magic Bullet] Specter, R-Pa., the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he would call the phone companies to appear before the panel ‘to find out exactly what is going on,’” reports the Associated Press. “Are you telling me that tens of millions of Americans are involved with al Qaida? These are tens of millions of Americans who are not suspected of anything … Where does it stop?” asked a clueless or disingenuous Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

It doesn’t stop, Mr. Leahy. In fact, it has gone on for more than fifty years, unopposed and unchecked. As Christopher Pyle revealed in January 1970, the U.S. Army has long spied on the American public. Pyle’s revelations resulted in the empanelling of the Church Committee (the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, a Senate committee chaired by Senator Frank Church) in 1975. Church summarized that government snooping and subversion, most notoriously COINTELPRO, “exceeded the restraints on the exercise of governmental power which are imposed by our country’s Constitution, laws, and traditions…. The Constitutional system of checks and balances has not adequately controlled intelligence activities. Until recently the Executive branch has neither delineated the scope of permissible activities nor established procedures for supervising intelligence agencies. Congress has failed to exercise sufficient oversight, seldom questioning the use to which its appropriations were being put. Most domestic intelligence issues have not reached the courts, and in those cases when they have reached the courts, the judiciary has been reluctant to grapple with them” (see the Church Committee’s Final Report, Book II).

Over the last three decades, not only has the judiciary been “reluctant to grapple” with the ongoing destruction of the Constitution, they have facilitated this process. It is not the job of Congress—the lamentations of Patrick Leahy not withstanding—to “exercise sufficient oversight, seldom questioning the use to which its appropriations were being put,” but rather to stay out of the way of a bellicose executive, bent on tracking down domestic enemies and destroying them or at minimum rendering them impotent to exercise their rights, as granted by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. As the nomination of Michael Hayden to head up the CIA (or oversee its dismemberment) reveals, the executive branch, essentially an autocratic office operating under a state of exception, as delineated by the orchestrated events of nine eleven and amplified by the Patriot Act. Carl Schmitt and the Nazis would approve.